The incidence of depressive symptomatology in juvenile sex offenders with a history of abuse

Judith V. Becker, Meg S. Kaplan, Craig E. Tenke, Aldo Tartaglini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Depressive symptomatology was assessed in a sample of 246 male juvenile sex offenders using the Beck Depression Inventory. Of these participants, the racial composition was black = 147, Hispanic = 62, Caucasian = 34. Three adolescents elected not to identify their racial origin. Subjects were divided according to their self-reports of having been sexually or physically abused. The mean Beck score across all subjects was 14.3, a value markedly higher than published norms and indicative of mild depression. Forty-two percent of subjects attained scores indicative of appreciable depressive symptomatology. A history of sexual or physical abuse was significantly related to high Beck scores; abused subjects had a mean Beck score of 16.4, as contrasted to 12.3 for nonabused subjects (Wilcoxon test: z = 2.82; p < .005). This relationship was apparent across all racial groups. While Hispanic subjects tended to have higher Beck scores and Caucasians lower scores, racial differences were not statistically significant. Results indicate that juveniles who have committed sexual crimes, particularly those with a history of abuse, should be evaluated for depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-536
Number of pages6
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Abuse
  • Depression
  • Juvenile sex offenders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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